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Role model Sahra back in love with golf

Former LET pro Sahra Hassan is back working in golf after falling in love with the sport again through the Wales Golf Midnight Ramadan programme.

Hassan had not picked up a club for six years after finishing as a touring professional on the Ladies European Tour, until a social round with her Dad and then the midnight golf sessions encouraged her back.

Now the 35-year-old is working at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor, enjoying being back engaged in a sport which holds such a big part of her life.

In 2012 Hassan was the UK Muslim Sportswoman of the Year, awarded by the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation and presented at Wembley Stadium. She was also an ambassador for the Asian Sports Foundation.

Born and brought up in Newport, she twice represented Wales at the World Cup, came second at the European Nations Cup and won the Welsh Amateur Championship.

The highlight of her professional career was top three at the French Open in 2013, plus three top 10 finishes on the LET, being a consistent performer in the pro ranks for eight years.

Hassan says she is not just a role model for Muslim girls looking at taking up golf, but also for people from all backgrounds.

“I’m working at the Celtic Manor, based at the 2010 course, doing golf services which is a bit of everything to be fair, lots of different roles we rotate between us all,” said the

“I walked away from golf for six years after finishing on the Ladies European Tour in 2015.

“I helped Mum and Dad with their business, then ran a shoe and bag shop with my sister for three to four years, before the chance came up at Celtic Manor.

“Golf has been a big part of my life and always will be, but after being on tour for eight years it did not excite me towards the end.

“One year I finished top 20 on the Order of Merit. On the men’s tour that would have meant earning £1.8 million, but it was just £90,000 on the ladies tour because there is such a massive difference.

“That was a bit of a kick in the stomach. I looked at the tour schedule recently and it is the same prize money as when I was playing, except for three to four events.

“I do not know if I fell out of love with it a little bit, put too much pressure on myself, the mind can do all sorts and I needed to walk away.”

Which led to a lengthy break, even though watching her hit balls into the distance now would make you wonder if she had ever been away.

“After that break I played a round with my Dad after six years of not touching a club,” she explained. “I triple bogeyed the first hole at St Pierre, but then was level par for the rest so I enjoyed the social side and could still play.

“Then came the Ramadan Golf, where Wales Golf organised the chance to play on the range around midnight after breaking our fast in the evening during the month of Ramadan.

“That was a really good idea and got me going as well, enjoying it. Wales Golf ran it again this year, both times it had a really good turnout – but there were more girls this year whereas the first year it was just myself, my sister and my cousins.

“I was lucky growing up in that my family encouraged me to play golf and tennis. I had a choice between the two and chose golf. My sister Myriam also played for Wales and went to the US on a golf scholarship.

“There are a lot of girls in the Muslim community wearing head scarves, hijabs, who think they cannot play sport, but they can play any sport as well.

“Things like the success of the England Women’s football team, a lot more women’s cricket on TV, all help show off women’s sport and there are a lot more girls involved in golf.

“I am seeing more Muslim girls playing. It can be tough from a background of some strict families, but you do not have to be white, black or brown to play, golf can be for everybody.”

Certainly Hassan has a lot of experiences to pass on to other golfers. “My experience is as a touring pro rather than a teaching pro, but I think in the next few years I might look into the idea of going that way.

“It depends on where I can go with Celtic Manor. I am happy with what I am doing and maybe there will be the chance to go into teaching.

“I was quite good at teaching people my level, picking up things about people’s swings on Tour or good amateur level.

“Being part of Welsh golf helped me a lot, the European Team Championships, Home Internationals, representing Wales in the World Cup, all those events helped get me ready for the pro ranks.

“I am glad I experienced the things I did, played with the players I did, but it is much more about the mental side on the pro tour compared to the amateurs.”

Certainly Hassan’s achievements would mark her out as a role model in the Muslim community and beyond, with a second career in golf just beginning.